Assessment of cleavage fracture in specimens with a curved crack front for high-strength steels in offshore applications
The significant petroleum reserve in the Arctic drives the need for offshore facilities in the Arctic made of ferritic structural steels. Such steel materials often exhibit a brittle fracture mode without noticeable prior plastic deformations. This paper presents a combined experimental and numerical investigation to assess the cleavage fracture failure for high-strength steels used in offshore applications. The experimental program includes a set of non-conventional, special single-edge notched bend, SSE(B) specimens, tested under a lower ambient temperature of -90 °C. In contrast to the conventional through-thickness fracture specimens, which experience an approximately uniform crack driving force along the entire crack front, the specimens with a curved crack front indicates strong variations in both the crack driving forces and constraints along the crack front. This study therefore utilizes an average toughness value calculated from the η-approach to describe the scatter observed in the fracture toughness. This study also presents a numerical investigation using the local Weibull stress approach to estimate the probability of cleavage fracture in the fracture tests. A combination of the fracture initiation zone defined by the J-integral values with a local Weibull stress driving force predicts reasonably well the probability of fracture of the experimental specimens.